MOSCOW, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Moscow introduced sanctions against over a dozen of Canadian officials and politicians as a retaliation to similar action by Ottawa, Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.
"This step was taken in response to Canadian side's unacceptable moves which seriously damage bilateral relations," the ministry's spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.
According to him, Russia remains open for "constructive and honest cooperation" with Canada. He noted that such cooperation in the past was pragmatic and based on significant common interests, first of all in the Arctic affairs.
"But we need such cooperation no more than Ottawa does," Lukashevich said, adding that "unfriendly moves, whatever motives may stand behind them," will be dealt with accordingly.
"Regrettably, Ottawa preferred to disregard the free choice made by residents of Crimea, most of whom voted for reunification with Russia in full accordance with international law and the UN Charter, and opted to support the current illegitimate regime installed in Kiev which is trying to assert itself riding the state coup wave," he said.
"We hope the Canadian authorities and politicians will make the appropriate conclusions," Lukashevich added.
Moscow banned from entering Russia 13 Canadian officials, members of the parliament and public figures, including president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
Last week, Ottawa introduced sanctions and travel restrictions on ten senior Russian officials and a number of Crimean officials.
On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Kiev for private talks with Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.